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Letecia Stauch changes plea, asks to waive jury trial

The defense also filed a motion to waive a jury trial, but no decision was made on that during Friday's hearing.

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — During a hearing Friday afternoon, the defense for Letecia Stauch, who is charged with first-degree murder related to the 2020 death of her 11-year-old stepson Gannon Stauch, asked to change her plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

Right after that, defense attorney Josh Tolini said they have an expert from out of state who recently agreed to assist and said that the expert believes there is a high likelihood of "psychosis."

RELATED: Bullets from gun in Stauch home 'consistent' with bullets found with Gannon's body

He said they did not bring this up with the intent to delay the case, but said it was Stauch's best defense.

Prosecutors did not challenge the request but noted the decision not to challenge does mean they believe the claim.

>The video above is from September when a judge ruled there was enough evidence to go to trial.

Under Colorado law, the not guilty by reason of insanity plea must be entered at the time of arraignment but could be changed later if there is "good cause," Judge Gregory Werner explained.

He ultimately ruled to allow the change of plea which resets the date for a "speedy trial" to occur. However, that timeline won't start until after the court receives the initial evaluation, Werner said.

Werner told Stauch as a result of the new plea, she could be given a polygraph during the evaluation and said any confession she makes will be admissible in court. He also explained that by pleading not guilty by reason of insanity she's waiving any confidentially of previous mental health records.

However, the defense filed a motion asking to waive a jury trial citing concerns over the massive amount of pre-trial publicity and the ability to find a fair jury pool.

The prosecution said they're not consenting to that at this time. District Attorney Michael Allen said he wanted to see the results of the evaluation first and said the motion was "premature."

Werner said he would not make a decision Friday and said he may not be able to rule on that until they get to jury selection.

Stauch's trial was set for March 28, but during Friday's hearing, both sides indicated they didn't believe they'd be ready to proceed at that time and Werner vacated that date. A new date was not set.

Stauch was already found competent to stand trial for murder after two separate mental health evaluations. Her next court date is set for March 17.

RELATED: Waitlist at state hospital in Pueblo could cause delay in Letecia Stauch murder trial

Stauch faces numerous charges in connection with the death of her stepson in January 2020. Gannon was reported missing from the Lorson Ranch neighborhood on Jan. 27, 2020, which is the day that prosecutors allege Stauch killed the boy in his bedroom. 

Credit: Family
Gannon Stauch,11, disappeared in January 2020. His remains were found months later in Florida.

Stauch was arrested in South Carolina on March 2, 2020. Gannon's remains were found later that same month in a suitcase near a Florida highway. They were found about six weeks after Stauch drove there in a Budget Rental van, according to prior court testimony.

Since her arrest, Stauch has been held without bond on felony charges. They include:

  • First-degree murder after deliberation
  • First-degree murder of a person under 12 by someone in a position of trust
  • Child abuse resulting in death
  • Tampering with a deceased human body
  • Tampering with physical evidence
  • Seven counts of a crime of violence for using a weapon (the weapons listed in the complaint include a firearm, blunt object and sharp object)
  • One count of crime of violence – causing severe bodily injury or death

RELATED: Letecia Stauch accused of attacking deputy on drive to Colorado to face murder charges

She's also accused of slipping out of handcuffs and attacking a deputy as she was transported to Colorado from South Carolina following her arrest and plotting an escape from the El Paso County Jail. A separate criminal case is pending against her related to those incidents.

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